Short bits

1. If, like Tom, you’re planning on making the month of August all about whisky, there are worse things you could do than sign up for Wineseeker’s Whisky Tasting on August 21. Sure, it’s $45, but it sounds like very good value for money.

2. While we don’t consider the Wellingtonista to be an exclusively hetrosexual site as such (you don’t have to have a particular kind of sexuality to love bars and hate the bypass, and who you’re doing doesn’t matter nearly as much as where you’re doing them), and I haven’t done a straw poll of how each contributor identifies, we don’t have very much (or in fact any that I can think of) coverage of specifically queer culture. And it’s Proud 07 right now, so in the interests of wider coverage, we’d like commenters to fill us in on the various scenes a little more. Who goes where? What’s hot and what’s not? Are there still monthly lesbian nights at Blondini’s? Is the ‘Lebanese’ restaurant beneath Spicehammer really just a spelling mistake? Enquiring minds want to know!

The Wellingtonista Socialite Part I

It’s been a banner week here at the Wellingtonista Towers for drinking networking opportunities. Yesterday was the VIP night at Beckon, tonight was a Ponoko showcase at the Paramount, and tomorrow we’re meeting up to discuss our evil plans for world domination.

Find out what we’ve been up to after the jump.

A drink for Autumn: the Negroni

At the wind whips at us with its chill flails, the blustery wet drizzle envelops our heads as we peraumbulate along the streets of downtown, as the night glows into the dawn with a dull damp violet cloud — we’re gonna need a drink to ward off the misery of the season. So I present to you the mulled-wine of the cocktail family: The Negroni.

It seems there are not a lot of people who will admit to a fondness for Campari. Indeed it was not two nights ago that a drinking companion of mine brayed something incoherent about “earwax” when the dreaded C-word was mentioned during a free-ranging session over at mine. However, for all its perceived sins, without Campari you would not have a Negroni.

It is the Campari that is the medicinal “bitter” and provides the characteristic flavor of the Negroni. A little background: according to my sources, Compari was concocted by Gaspare Campari in the 1850s. Gaspare, at only age 14, was the master drink maker at the Bass Bar in Turin, which was the commercial center for aperitifs at the time. Campari is made with natural ingredients that include herbs, spices, bark and fruit peels. The exact formula is of course a highly guarded secret. And as far as the Negroni is concerned, as with all great cocktails stories differ, but the most popular account of its origin is that Count Camillo Negroni, a Florentine aristocrat, decided one day to add some bite to his favorite drink, the Americano. He had the bartender add gin. From that time on he ordered the same drink every day. Eventually the bartender named the drink after him.

The Negroni. Complex. Spicy. Bitter, although not overly so. The tiniest bit of sweetness to offset that. It’s a drink to warm a cold breast. It’s a perfect aperitif, a drink to wake up your taste buds and shout “Ciao, ragazzo bello! Come stai?”. And the colour! The rich brown and deep red tones seem to glow with soft light and autumnal hues. Hold one near a light and your Negroni will erupt in orange novas. It’s the obvious drink-of-Autumn for a Wellingtonista.

“Bene, grazie!”

Plenty to wine about

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they feel the need to leave Wellington, even if it’s just for one day. No really, it happens! And a particularly good day to get out of town, if you don’t like the colour green, or potatoes, or Guiness or drunken fake-Irish louts, would be this Saturday. So where to go to get away? How about a wine festival – after we all know, that wine drinkers are a better class of people than beer drinkers – somewhere out of town but still nearby?

Well it just so happens that March 17 is your lucky day, with not one but two festivals taking place nearby. There’s the Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival in Gladstone (as well as the International Balloon Fiesta and the day before Round the Vines, and also the Great Wellington Wine and Food Festival in Paekakariki. So how do you choose which one to go to when they both cost $25 for an entrance fee? Take our quiz to find out.

Not-so Breaking News

stolen from flickr

  • Tupelo has moved its beer menu to all boutique styles, with only Heineken remaining on its menu as a mainstream drop. They also have the very tasty Nelson Bays Gold and Nelson Bays Pilsner on tap, with (classy glass) jugs for just $10.
  • Meanwhile the Wellingtonista’s semi-tiki bar of choice, Imbibe is now offering brunch on Friday-Sunday. While there was no obviously displayed menu on the windows, the people sitting contentedly in the sun appeared to be tucking in to large plates of eggs. Hopefully they’ll have more on offer for those of us less eggily inclined, because it’s a gorgeous space and looks very nice and chilled out for a hangover breakfast.
  • And finally, the Dominion Post can as usual be relied on to run front-page stories about the weather in exact reverse of what’s going on that day, so today’s rain brings a ‘Drought!’ cover story. Hurrah!

[photo by AndrewNZ]

Bar None

martini - stirred, not shakenWell, he’s done it. Wellingtonista Tom has completed his mission to visit every bar in the central city, with all these fine establishments hosting our roving martini expert at one time or another…

Arbitrageur, Arizona, Atlanta, B4, Backbencher, Ballroom, Basement, Beaujolais, Big Kumara, Bisque On Bolton, The Black Harp, Blend, Blondini’s, Blue Note, Bodega, Bohdans, Boogie Wonderland, Boulcott St Bistro, Boulot, Breakers, Brewery Bar, The Bristol, Brix, Bull & Bear, Cabaret, Calzone, Cambridge Hotel, Capitol, Caronia, Caucus, The Cavern Club, Chameleon, Chicago, Chow, Club K, Concrete, Confidential, Copita, Courtenay Arms, Coyote, Crazy Horse, Cue Room, Curve, Dockside, The Dog & Bone, Dojo, Downtown Local, The Dubliner, Eclipse, Electric Avenue, Endup, Ernesto, Establishment, The Feathers, Ferrymans, Floriditas, Flying Burrito Brothers, Gibbon’s Bar, GoGo, Good Luck, Green Room, The Grill at Duxton, Happy, Harem, Havana, Hawthorne Lounge, Hope Bros, Hotel Willis Lodge, Hugos, Hummingbird, Imbibe, Imerst, J’aime Bordeaux, Jet, The Jimmy, JJ Murphy’s, Juniper, Kazu Yakitori and Sake Bar, Kitty O’Shea’s, The Lab, The Lab Underground, The Last Supper Club, Latinos, Leuven, The Lido, Liquidate, The Loaded Hog, Logan Brown, Lone Star, Lone Star Lounge, Lovelocks, The Malthouse, Matterhorn, Maya, Medina, Mercure Terrace, Mercure Willis, Mercury Lounge, Mezzaluna, Mighty Mighty, Milk, Mini Bar, Ministry Of Food, Mixjah, Mojo Invincible, Molly Malones, Monsoon Poon, Motel, Museum Hotel, MVP, Occidental, The Old Bank Bar & Café, One Red Dog (Blair St), One Red Dog (Kumutoto), Orchid Lounge, Our Bar, Paradiso, Paramount, Parlour Bar, The Pit, Pod, Ponderosa, Portland Hotel, Pravda, Rain, Red Square, Sandwiches, San Francisco Bathhouse, Scopa, Seam, The Shack, Shed 5, Shooters, Sojourn, Southern Cross, Speight’s Ale House, Spice Island, Sports Cafe, Stadium Bar, Stellar, St Johns, Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, Syn, The Tasting Room, The Thistle Inn, Toast, Trax, Tupelo, Urbane, UU, Valve, Vespa Lounge, Vintage, Vivo, The Wellesley Cafe, Welsh Dragon Bar & Scorpio’s, Whitbys Piano Bar, Zibibbo, Zing

Tom needs a new challenged for 2007, so head over to WellUrban to make a suggestion.

Malthouse closes on 23rd December

Malthouse chatterOnly to re-open next to the Sports Bar on Courtenay Place around mid-February.

It’ll be interesting to see if the middle management-types and general office dwellers that frequent the current Malthouse will make the Friday night trek down to Courtenay Place.

Having said that it’ll be mighty to have a place that serves good beer (and not the standard sugary s!@t available) in the heart of Wellington’s entertainment ‘quarter’.

And so, for all those that are, like myself, middle management-types – see you for one last drink on the balcony!

Bar Wars

The Capital Times has begun its 2006 Best of Wellington survey (not online), inviting readers to vote for their favourite things under dozens of categories.

However, one category is glaringly absent: best bar. They have best barman, barmaid, music venue and nightclub, but no bar (or best Martini, for that matter).

[read on…]

Mystery bar number 36

mystery barOkay, last week’s mystery bar was way too easy: it’s Electric Avenue in Courtenay Place, which has just opened in the two storey building vacated by Saffron last year. Most bars go for a stealthy approach when they’re under renovation, keeping their windows papered over until the opening, but Electric Avenue took the unusual approach of actually displaying architectural plans and sketches, so we all had a fair idea of how it would look when it opened.

So, now we have an Eighties bar: hooray.

read on…

Piss artist

When one thinks of Jerry Collins, one’s mind immediately turns to … elderflowers. That’s because Matterhorn’s “Jerry Collins” cocktail (a version of the classic Tom Collins) incorporates such manly ingredients as elderflower cordial and feijoa vodka. That’s hardly news to Wellingtonians, but its fame has spread across the Tasman and got a whole article in the Sydney Morning Herald’s “Rugby Heaven” (hat tip to Duncan in Sydney for the link).

When I asked the bar staff about it this morning, they hadn’t heard of the article, but they were amused to read their boss’s quote that “When the All Blacks or Hurricanes play in Wellington and feel like going to a bar for a drink they can come to the Matterhorn and nobody will mob them for autographs, or in many cases even know who they are”. They probably get mistaken for members of Fat Freddy’s Drop.

Apparently the name is ironic. Really? I thought it was because elderflowers are a diuretic.